‘Manifesto’ Outlines a Possible Future for South Africa


Manifesto: A New Vision for South Africa is exactly what its title promises: an articulation of what South Africa could look like in the future, and the policies needed to get there. Author Songezo Zibi is the founder of the political participation think tank, Rivonia Circle; Manifesto is partially a peek into the work of this organisation.

An Overview of ‘Manifesto’

Manifesto has ten chapters, plus an introduction. Four of these chapters are dedicated to outlining the current status quo and another to the lessons South Africa can learn from the successes and failures of the U.S’s democracy. The remaining five chapters detail what Zibi thinks positive change in South Africa looks like, and the decisions needed to get there. At the heart of Manifesto is why the South African professional class must get much more involved in politics: “The destruction of the economy and state dysfunction will soon make it pointless to remain silent to protect a sheltered lifestyle of suburban residential complexes and large houses.”

Some Issues Zibi Addresses in the Book

● Why the two major opposition parties, the DA and EFF, are not viable governing parties
● What the ANC needs to do to revive itself (spoiler: it needs to be removed from power)
● The abolishment of the proportional representation system of elections
● The importance of economic diplomacy and how it can be revitalised
● Why community and family life (no matter the make-up) must be at the heart of policy-making
● The need to accept the social democratic leanings of South Africans’ values
● How government can initiate and promote economic growth, including a job seekers grant and investing wisely in infrastructure development
● Why pensioner-aged politicians need to go and the need to professionalise the civil service

Should You Read ‘Manifesto’?

Amongst the many other non-fiction takes on South African politics, Manifesto stands out because it does not emphasise an analysis of South Africa’s problems. “We have a national habit of endless analysis while every one of the problems we analyse, worsens,” says Zibi in a Rivonia Circle video.

Instead, Manifesto is a concise, yet far-reaching summary of the author’s suggestions of how these issues can be resolved. Manifesto addresses the professional, middle-classes of South Africa. As Zibi explains, this is not to the exclusion of the poor and working class. Rather, Zibi feels that the professional class has relied on the poor and working class to fight its battles for it. Manifesto is unflinching in its critique of current policy and some of the proposed alternatives. Zibi doesn’t waste time in calling for professionals to ditch historical ties to the ANC. He boldly calls for the abolishment of provincial governments, in support of a stronger constituency parliamentary model.

This book is likely to make many in South Africa uncomfortable at some level, no matter how invested they are in the country’s future. This effect is minimised, though, because Manifesto is quick to find common ground between South Africans (based on the values of the current constitution) and moves forward rapidly to what Zibi thinks must be done to improve the country’s outlook.

Whether you agree with Zibi or not, Manifesto is crucial reading for active citizens who are invested in South Africa’s future. The writing is concise, the issues covered are diverse (from the need for better sporting facilities to what a functional public transport system could offer) and there are some very effective metaphors that make it easy to comprehend Zibi’s vision

About Author Songezo Zibi

Songezo Zibi’s career has spanned 20 years in the corporate and media sectors. He has worked as Head of Communications at ABSA and was editor of Business Day between 2014 and 2016. Zibi is also the author of Raising the Bar: Hope & Renewal in South Africa which was published in 2014. In 2022, Zibi launched Rivonia Circle. He is ready to run for president in 2024.

Manifesto: A New Vision for South Africa is published by Pan Macmillan and sells for R338 at Exclusive Books.

Jenna Solomon

Jenna is a journalism, African studies and social development graduate. She writes about active citizenship and lifestyle in South Africa.